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Fuel Regulations

China: Fuels

Implementation Schedule

The national implementation schedule for fuel standards in China is summarized in Table 1. Low sulfur diesel fuel (S ≤ 500 ppm) became available “nationwide” in 2004 but 0.2% sulfur fuel was commonly supplied after this date. Some cities and regions can require fuels with sulfur levels (or other properties) stricter than the available national standard. In such cases, provincial fuel standards can become available prior to the release of national fuel standards.

Table 1
National implementation schedule for gasoline, onroad diesel and general (nonroad) diesel fuels
Maximum sulfur content (mg/kg) indicated in brackets
GasolineII (500)China III (150)China IV (50)China V (10)China VIa (10)VIb (10)
Onroad DieselI (2000), II (500) availableChina III (350)China IV (50)China V (10)China VI (10)
General Diesel(2000)(350)(50)(10)

Diesel Fuel

Standard GB 17691-2005 [2881] specified emission limits for China III-V stages, but included fuel specifications for the China III stage only. Faced with the lack of official fuel standards to ensure availability of ultra low sulfur fuels that were necessary to enable emission technologies at the China IV/V stages, the Ministry of Environmental Protection adopted regulation GWKB 1.2-2011 which regulated sulfur and polyaromatics as toxics. Selected specifications and availability status are shown in Table 2.

Table 2
Selected specifications of diesel fuel for motor vehicles
China IIIChina IVChina VChina VI
National Fuel StandardGB 19147–2009GB 19147–2013GB 19147–2016
Municipal/Regional Fuel StandardsGB 19147–2009DB11/239-2007 (Beijing)
DB31/428-2009 (Shanghai)
DB44/695-2009 (Guangdong)
DB11/239-2012 (Beijing)
Sulfur content, mg/kg≤ 350
(GB 17691-2005)
≤ 50
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 10
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 10
Cetane number, min†50-53
(GB 17691-2005)
(GB 19147-2009)
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons, % (m/m)3-11
(GB 17691-2005)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 7
Lubricity, µm @60°C, HFRR460460460460
Flash, °C, min†45-5545-55
(GB 19147–2013)
(GB 19147–2016)
Regional Implementation Date*Beijing: 2008
Shanghai: 2009
Shenzen: 2009
Guangzhou: 2009
Beijing: 2012.06
Shanghai: 2013.12
11 Eastern Provinces: 2016.01
† Value is seasonally adjusted
* For nationwide implementation see Table 1

National diesel fuel standards in China include GB 19147 for onroad vehicles, GB 252 (general diesel fuel) for a number of other applications including nonroad engines and GB 17411 for marine applications:

  • Onroad Diesel Fuel—For onroad applications, GB 19147-2009 was implemented in stages throughout the country starting in January 2010. GB 19147-2013 for China IV fuel was published in February 2013 and included recommended limits for China V diesel fuel in an Appendix.

    In 2008, the maximum fuel sulfur limit in several cities was set at 50 ppm (e.g., DB11/239-2007). In 2012, the maximum sulfur limit in Beijing was set at 10 ppm (DB11/239-2012).

    In February 2013, the State Council issued a timetable for its program to upgrade fuel quality nationwide. By the end of 2014, automotive diesel fuel sulfur was to be set at 50 ppm (China IV or National IV) and by the end of 2017, sulfur limits for automotive gasoline and automotive diesel were to be 10 ppm maximum (China V or National V). Diesel fuel standards for China V were required to be issued by July 2013. In April 2015, the State Council advanced timeline for 10 ppm gasoline and diesel fuel by one year making it available nationwide by January 2017.

    The specifications for China V and China VI fuel, GB 19147-2016, were issued in December 2016. Table 3 summarizes the limits for China VI fuel. The primary difference between China V and China VI diesel is a lower PAH content in the later. GB 19147-2016 included a schedule for the phase-out of China IV and China V fuels as well as the phase-in of China VI fuels. The transition from China IV to China V would be completed by December 31, 2016 after which China IV diesel fuel would no longer be available. The transition from China V to China VI would be completed December 31, 2018 after which, China V diesel fuel would no longer be available.

  • General Diesel Fuel—Also referred to as Ordinary Diesel Fuel. For other applications such as trailers, locomotives with internal combustion engines, construction machinery, vessels, generator sets, 3-wheelers and low-speed trucks, national fuel standard GB 252 is available. GB 252-2000 set the sulfur level at 0.2%. GB 252-2011 set July 1, 2013 as the transition date from a sulfur limit of 0.2% to a limit of 0.035%. In April 2015, the State Council set the limit to 50 ppm starting July 1, 2017, and 10 ppm starting January 1, 2018; GB 252-2015 reflects these changes. In June 2018, the State Council announced the Three-Year Action Plan for Winning the Blue Sky Defense Battle that stated the ordinary diesel fuel standard would be phased-out and China VI fuel (GB 19147-2016) would be used for onroad, nonroad and some marine applications starting January 1, 2019 [3953].
  • Marine Fuel Oil—Intended for a variety of marine applications such as ships for transporting goods on rivers (barges) and specially designed cargo ships intended to operate both in rivers and the open sea (Jianghai direct ships). GB 17411 covers these fuels and is similar to ISO 8217. GB 17411-2015 reflects ISO 8217-2012. In 2018, GB 17411 was amended (GB 17411-2015/XG1-2018) and took effect 2019.01.01. One notable difference between GB 17411-2015/XG1-2018 and ISO 8217-2012 is that the former defines three different grades for all DM category and RMA and RNB category fuels based on sulfur. Grade I has a sulfur limit the same as ISO 8217, Grade II has a sulfur limit of 0.50% max. and Grade III has a sulfur limit of 0.10% max. Only Grade I and Grade II is defined for other RM category fuels. Grade II reflects IMO requirements starting in 2020 for ships outside of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) while Grade III is for ships operating in Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECAs).
  • Other standards—While biodiesel plays a relatively small role in China’s fuel market, national standards for B5 (GB 25199) and the biodiesel component (GB/T 20828) are available.
Table 3
China VI diesel fuel limits
PropertyFuel GradeTest Method
No. 5No. 0No. -10No. -20No. -35No. -50
Oxidation stability, mg/100 mL max.2.5SH/T 0175
Sulfur, mg/kg max.10SH/T 0689
Acidity, mg KOH/100 mL max.7GB/T 258
10% carbon residue, % mass max.0.3GB/T 17144
Ash, % mass max.0.01GB/T 508
Copper corrosion, (3h @50°C), max.1GB/T 5096
Water, % vol. max.traceGB/T 260
Lubricity, µm @60°C max.460SH/T 0765
PAH, % mass max.7SH/T 0806
Total contamination, mg/kg max.24GB/T 33400
Kinematic viscosity @20°C, mm2/s3.0-8.02.5-8.01.8-7.0GB/T 265
Pour point, °C max.50-10-20-35-50GB/T 510
CFPP, °C max.84-5-14-29-44SH/T 0248
Flash, closed cup, °C min.605045GB/T 261
Cetane number, min.514947GB/T 386
Cetane index, min.464643SH/T 0694
Distillation, °C max.
 50%, recovery temp.
 90%, recovery temp.
 95%, recovery temp.
GB/T 6536
Density @20°C, kg/m3810-845790-840GB/T 1884
GB/T 1885
FAME, % volume max.1.0NB/SH/T 0916


GB 17930 is the primary gasoline standard. GB 17930-2016 published in December 2016 defines China V, China VIa and China VIb gasoline. The transition from China IV to China VIb is included. The transition from China IV to China V would be completed by December 31, 2016 after which China IV gasoline would no longer be available. The transition from China V to China VIa would be completed December 31, 2018 after which, China V gasoline would no longer be available. The transition from China VIa to China VIb would be completed December 31, 2022 after which, China VIa gasoline would no longer be available. Table 4 summarizes the requirements for China VI gasoline.

The primary change from China V to China VIa is the lowering of the benzene, aromatics and olefins limits from 1.0, 40 and 24 to 0.8, 35 and 18 % volume. The primary change from China VIa to China VIb is a lowering of the olefin limit from 18 to 15 % volume. 98 RON fuels can be offered if a producer has production capability. For both China VIa and China VIb 98 RON gasoline, the olefin limit is 15 % volume.

Table 4
China VIa and China VIb gasoline requirements
PropertyGradeTest Method
Research octane number (RON) min.89929598GB/T 5487
Anti-knock index (AKI), (RON+MON)/2 min.84879093GB/T 503, GB/T 5487
Lead contentb, g/L max.0.005GB/T 8020
 10% evaporation temp., °C max.
 50% evaporation temp., °C max.
 90% evaporation temp., °C max.
 Final boiling point, °C max.
 Residue, % volume max.
GB/T 6536
Vapor pressure, kPa
 November 1st - April 30th
 May 1st - October 31st
GB/T 8017
Gum content mg/100 ml max.
 Unwashed gum (before adding detergent)
 Solvent washed gum
GB/T 8019
Induction period, min.480GB/T 8018
Sulfur, max.10GB/T 0689
Mercaptan (Doctor Test)sweetNB/SH/T 0174
Copper corrosion, 3h @50°C max.1GB/T 5096
Water-soluble acid and alkalinoneGB/T 259
Water and sediment noneVisual inspection. Referee methods: GB/T 511 and GB/T 260
Benzene, % volume max.0.8SH/T 0713
Aromatics, % volume max.35GB/T 30519
Olefins, % volume max.VIa: 18
VIb: 15
VIa/VIb: 15GB/T 30519
Oxygen, % mass max.2.7NB/SH/T 0663
Methanolb, % mass max.0.3NB/SH/T 0663
Manganeseb, g/L max.0.002SH/T 0711
Ironb, g/L max.0.01SH/T 0712
Density @20°C, kg/m3720-775GB/T 1884, GB/T 1885
a Guangdong and Hainan implement this requirement throughout the year.
b The use of methanol and additives containing lead, iron and manganese is not allowed.

Ethanol blended gasoline (E10) is also used in China. Two national standards are relevant: GB 18351 is the E10 standard while GB/T 22030 is the standard for the ethanol component. An E85 standard (GB 35793) is also available. In September 2017, the National Energy Administration announced a plan for nationwide use of E10 gasoline by 2020 [3959][3960]. In 2018, E10 was available in 12 provinces. Near the end of 2019, while a national E10 mandate starting in 2020 was in doubt due to a decline in national corn stocks and insufficient ethanol production capacity, some provinces including Hebei and Shanxi were on schedule for implementation. In January 2020, the national E10 target for 2020 was abandoned but blend targets for provinces that have already implemented ethanol blends will remain in place. However, actual blend rates vary and are often significantly lower. The national average annual blend rate from 2012 to 2021 ranged between 1.8% and 2.5% [5225].

MTBE is used as an oxygenate and octane booster in China (about 11×106 tonnes in 2017). The use of ethanol as well as a ban on the use of non-taxed blend components [3953] may affect the amount blended into gasoline.

Methanol blended gasoline is also used in China. It is produced primarily from coal and coking gas and is most common in regions rich in coal deposits and with methanol production facilities. Low level blends such as M15 are most commonly available. A national standard is available for M85 (GB 23799). Work on a national standard for M15 was started in 2007 but by 2018, was still unfinished. Numerous provincial standards are available for M15 and M30.